My Heart's Home

February 27, 2011

Man of Chains

Filed under: Freedom,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 3:11 am

My son has a book wish list. It comes home in folder orange and backpack blue. I read it. We choose two books out of nine. One of them is “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Curioddities.” Can’t go wrong with Ripley’s freaky fascinating facts. (I’m just as eager to read it as he is!)

Only a few pages in and my jaw drops. It’s a drawing of an Indian holy man called the “man of chains.” When Ripley met him in India in 1924 the chains weighed 670 lbs. and he had worn them for 13 years.

Yes, that’s right folks, 13 years!

Here’s a drawing of the man:

My initial reaction is shock, followed by sadness. Did no one tell him of Christ’s atonement? Did a believer never speak grace into his weary soul? Maybe his stubborn heart was not receptive; his hearing deafened by dumbbells.

Why 670 lbs. and not 671? What was his reasoning?

So many questions…

His visible chains are obvious. But what about those who live amongst us carrying invisible yokes? Yokes of perfectionism? idolatry? Legalism? Not just non-Christians, but Christians, too. Some of us still carry invisible chains from unresolved wounds from childhood, from a spouse who left us for another, from a loved one who abused us. We never shed tears or pour out our hearts to a loving God because we don’t trust His love for us. Instead, we stand silent, proud and stalwart, carrying our burdens ourselves.

I know because I did.

Sisters, we are all broken. But like soil under lacquered nails, we hide it well.

But do we? Our wounds manifest and repeat themselves in destructive ways no matter how many masks we wear trying to pretend otherwise. Maybe we’re workaholics; compulsive eaters; sex addicts; addicted to alcohol or other drugs; shopaholics; or have compulsions to control, please or rescue others. Maybe we can’t control our anger, critical tongue or sense of worthlessness. Maybe we choose the wrong man time and time again. Maybe we escape or numb out watching TV hours on end. Maybe we mistake busyness for godliness. Maybe we avoid being alone and need constant crowds or noise to distract us from His gentle voice whispering “be still”.

We try to self medicate when Jesus is the only true salve for our wounds.

What are your dumbbells?

Do you realize God sees no shame when He looks at you through Jesus’ eyes? He sees you and me whole, perfect and beautiful. His restoring hand wants to help us view ourselves this way, too.

Admitting our brokenness is the first step toward healing. Many of us do anything we can to hide it instead, which leads to compulsive behavior. Or we try to earn our own salvation by good works or intense sacrifice and pain, like wearing 670 lbs. of chains for years on end. But we can’t earn grace no matter how hard we try. It’s a gift we either accept or reject.

If Jesus isn’t everything in our heart, we will try everything to fill that void of emptiness. Beth Moore says in her Bible study Breaking Free: “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.”

Lets rid ourselves of every sin that so easily entangles us. Before we know it links build a chain of bondage that weigh us down like the “man of chains.” Lets shine the light of truth on secrets, sin and denial.

Let’s trade our yoke for His: “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:30. Let the shame of our brokenness lead us to the foot of the cross where no ones brokenness is worse than another. We all are equally marred. Let His shed blood cover each shard. Then let us rise, victorious, leaving every chain and link behind!

Do you trust Jesus can break every chain and foothold in your life? An even better questions is: are you willing to let Him?

Click to hear song:

By Your Side

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1

 

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:5

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1




Advertisements

February 19, 2011

The Love Boat

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 2:21 pm

French Sculptor, Julien Berthier, sails a sinking ship. In fact, its been across the English Channel and even toured around Europe.

Call him crazy, but I call him clever.

His boat sculpture, built in 2007, resembles a capsizing ship. It’s called “Love Love” and I love, love it!

The 35-year-old artist (and trickster) adapted an abandoned yacht into a 21-foot sculpture that is actually sea worthy. He cut the original boat in half, sealed it with fiberglass and fitted it with two motors. Despite the capsizing look, he claims it’s safe and easy to maneuver. It now sails at a 45 degree angle, which has passers-by and dutiful seafarers doing double-takes.

It’s a mind-boggling scene. A relaxed sailor at the stern of what appears to be a boat heading to a watery grave. (I’d like to place a fishing pole in his hands to add even more bafflement.)

Berthier often alerts coast guard and harbor masters about his sculpture to alleviate any unwarranted rescues resulting from distressed callers. Jaws drop as minutes pass and the boat is still afloat.

“Love-Love”, like much of his oeuvre, is a masterpiece. It’s impressive, poetic and humorous. His purpose in creating this art of fiasco is to “fix an object at the moment of its deregulation.” The sinking ship image is a metaphor signifying death, lost hope and sinking dreams. (That’s like an anchor: deep.)

All I know is it makes me smile.

Especially when I see the photo below of “Love Love” docked at a boat slip alongside hundreds of other normal-looking boats. It stands out. One quick glance and no question which boat is his. (Maybe I should make a sculpture of my SUV like this. Never again will I scratch my head asking, “Where the heck did I park this time?”) I love how it rises above the crowd, is one-of-a-kind, distinguishable from the rest. Not boring, camouflaged or status quo. It can’t be overlooked, dismissed, averted. It commands attention, raises eyebrows, beckons curiosity. Why? Because it’s different from the pack.

How many of us dare to live our Christian faith this way?

'Love Love' is shown alongside boats in a harbor.

 

“…so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” Phil. 2:15

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:2

“In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

February 12, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 8:40 am

Craving a large glazed donut, a bottle of soda or spearmint gum? No problem, right? Just a quick drive to the nearest grocery store and satisfy that urge. But what if someone steals your car keys? What if your wallet is fleeced? What if the nearest store is 100 miles away?

What if your freedom is confined to a 6′ x 8′ prison cell? Minutes, days, months and years pass.

35 years total.

Wouldn’t these treats taste pretty sweet after all that time? Bet freedom would taste even sweeter.

Just ask James Bain who was freed in 2009 after being falsely imprisoned for 35 years for a rape he didn’t commit. When asked if he was angry, he said he wasn’t “because I got God in my hands.”

Wow. Not sure that would have been my first response.

His initial requests are so simple: a large glazed donut, a bottle of Mellow Yello and some spearmint gum. Every day items I take for granted. I began to wonder what else I take for granted not being a prisoner: owning sharp objects like my letter opener, scissors and knitting needles; my comfortable King-size bed; my own bar  of soap; my own shower; privacy when I shower; a walk-in closet containing a full wardrobe in an assortment of colors and designs—not just orange or striped; my toilet not adjacent to my pillow; a jar brimming with Double Bubbles; Starbucks coffee I grind myself every morning; wearing makeup; a fully stocked pantry at my fingertips; visitation rights every day with my husband and son; making vacation plans; taking a vacation; gazing at clouds, rainbows, butterflies; inhaling fresh air…

Freedom.

Cornelius Dupree was freed last month after serving 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Bet freedom tastes pretty sweet to him, too. “I feel that words won’t make up for what I lost,” Dupree said. Even so, “It’s a joy to be free again.”

Jouanna Thiec was imprisoned at 16 in 1685 for being a Calvinist in France after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. She was imprisoned 73 years and released at age 89! Even if she had to be wheeled out in what was called an invalids chair back then, I bet that didn’t slow down her enthusiasm! I’m sure freedom tasted succulent to her, as well.

Can you imagine spending the majority of your life in prison? I can’t imagine 30 years, let alone a lifetime behind bars. What if prison bars are all you’ve known and freedom is a stranger? Would we miss freedom if we’ve never tasted it? How many of us have spent our lives living behind invisible prison walls? What if we’ve never truly trusted all God’s promises? What if we’ve never formed a close relationship with Him because our heart has been scarred too many times? What if we’ve never allowed Him to heal those wounds? What if we are viewing Him through a tainted lens that needs cleansing before vision is restored? What if we’ve been walking silently beside Him all along, but have never reached out to hold His hand or strike up a deep conversation with Him?

What if?

I know I have. Even though I’ve been a Christian for decades, my palms preferred coat pockets and my tongue remained tied.

That’s how I used to act as a child when my own biological father came to visit about once a year after the divorce. When I was around 11 he dropped out of my life for 20 years.

My view of God was tainted because I was abandoned by my own Father. Thus, I viewed God as a distant, uninvolved, larger-than-life character. I felt shy and inhibited when I felt Him near and alone, forgotten, unwanted when I didn’t.  I was a prisoner to Satan’s lies for God’s truth says:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5

We tend to view God based on our relationship with our earthy Fathers, so my vision of my Heavenly Father was skewed. To think I didn’t need healing in this area before I could have an accurate view of Him, would be ludicrous. Yet I didn’t know I needed healing until God showed me.

I’m studying Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” Bible study and this week we’re learning about “The Obstacle of Pride.”

What if our own prideful walls keep us imprisoned from all the sweetness God has to offer?

In the book it says, God wants to:

  • get to our hearts. Pride covers the heart.
  • free us from hindrances in our past. Pride refuses to look back.
  • treat us with His Word. Pride doesn’t like to be told what to do.
  • set us completely free. Pride thinks he’s free enough.
  • bring us out of dark closets. Pride says secrets are nobody’s business.
  • help us with constraining problems. Pride denies there is a problem.
  • make us strong in Him. Pride won’t admit to weakness.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

I was, and am, a Christian still living in captivity. I’m sure there are many more out there just like myself. Christ came to set the captive free through truth. Satan wants to hold the free captive through lies. I’m on a Spiritual journey now toward living a life of true freedom, of pardoning, of grace. As a sinner I was given the death sentence, but Christ took my place and broke the chains of condemnation, guilt and shame FOREVER. Becoming saved isn’t about asking Jesus into our hearts, then thanking Him for salvation and walking away. It’s about following Him wherever He leads. We’ve got work to do! It’s just the beginning of our Spiritual walk toward freedom. Beth Moore says: “Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they accept Christ’s salvation, yet reject the fullness of daily relationship that satisfies.” As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want every chain, foothold and prison bar removed from my heart and mind, because I’ve been weighed down far too long. I want to walk daily with my Lord and not let any boulders hinder my path. I don’t want foolish stones of Disbelief, Legalism, Idolatry, Prayerlessness or Pride to weigh me down or keep freedom’s bells from ringing.

I want them to ring out so loud that even the deaf can hear!

James Bain may not be angry after being imprisoned 35 years because He’s got God in his hands.

But an even freer place to be is in God’s hands.

Lord, remove barbed wires around my heart.

Lord, help me face and deal with wounds from my past and any hindrances and give me courage to look back to discover them.

Lord, treat me with Your Word for I am willing to hear and obey.

Lord, loose all shackles for I refuse to be in bondage to anything or anyone.

Lord, bring me out of dark closets and help me live in Your light, fully exposed, where healing begins.

Lord, help me with constraining problems and keep me on my knees, humble.

Lord, make me strong in You and not be afraid to admit my weakness and shortcomings.

Don’t let me waste another day locked up behind invisible prison walls.

Set me completely free!


“If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”
John 8:36

Click below to hear a beautiful song about letting your prison walls down:

This Is Where The Healing Begins


February 5, 2011

Holy Mackerel

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 6:03 pm

You wouldn’t know it if he stood in front of a tropical aquarium.

He could even identify and name Hawaii’s state version: Humuhumunukunukuapua`a!

Or if you witnessed him reading my favorite childhood book: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

But you would if you sat around my parents’ dinner table recently while we visited them in Hawaii:

My son hates fish.

Not entirely, just the finless, skinless, boneless type waiting to swim down his trachea into his stomach’s seabed. I have to give him credit at least he tried it. (Nine times out of 10 he usually won’t.) But that’s debatable. Just consult my brother, nephew & wife, my parents, my husband or myself and our opinions will all differ. My folks contend that piece of Mahi Mahi didn’t even tap his tongue before he vehemently spewed that Jonah from his five-year-old mouth and burst into tears. I argue he tasted it. They shake their heads.

We agree to disagree.

But I have to admit, it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt my stubborn child could have convinced himself, beforehand, that he would detest fish. Not unlike Dr. Seuss’ Sam I Am character who claimed to hate “Green Eggs and Ham” before even trying them. And we all know how that story ends: once Sam I Am tasted them, he loved green eggs and ham and couldn’t get enough of them!

My son is not Sam I Am.

I believe it will be a long time coming before he tastes fish again or does once-and-for-all, depending on whose side of the fence you’re on.

That four-letter “F” word became the running joke for awhile at grandma and grandpa’s. We dare not spoke it fearing he’d be further traumatized. We’d cross arms over head, duck and scream imitating him: “Fish, FISH! NOOOOO, not FISH!!” We all volunteer to donate toward his inevitable therapy bills.

Seriously though, what parent doesn’t struggle introducing their child to new foods? My son tries new foods one-tenth of the time and more often than not he likes what I’m offering. We both do a happy dance atop kitchen tiles when he does! But why is he so hesitant to taste? Does he not trust me? Does the food not look appetizing or appealing in texture? Does it smell offensive? Does the unfamiliar and foreign frighten him away? I’ve even offered him succulent, syrupy, saccharin-laden treats guaranteed to be a party in the mouth, to no avail. He’d just offer a turned up nose instead.

I wonder how many times I’ve turned my nose up at God’s sweet offerings.

Psalm 34:8 says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I was raised in ‘the faith’, but like a holy mackerel caught in a net, my faith became stagnant. It wasn’t long before something smelled fishy. You see, I was one of those Christians who loved touting the verse: “Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship” yet I hadn’t a clue what that really meant. After all, I didn’t spend time hanging out with Jesus, carrying on a Chatty Cathy conversation with Him, like I did my best friends; reading His love letter to me—the Bible–like pouring over romantic cards from my fiancé before we married; or sharing my tears, transgressions and temptations, like I might a therapist. In fact, I felt tremendous guilt, condemnation and shame because I didn’t do these things regularly like everyone else was, so I pretended otherwise, like most everyone else was. I struggled with reading my Bible, praying and obeying rules trying to be the perfect Christian. But it’s not about rule keeping or keeping score, for that matter.

It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.

I—me, myself and I—made it about RELIGION.

When in truth, it’s all about GRACE.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

Now I get it! It’s about grace and trusting God’s goodness. But if you’ve had a history of bad relationships and heartache, it will take time for wounds to heal, so one can start trusting again. In other words, you can’t expect an abused and abandoned Dog to jump on his new owner, wagging his tongue and tail, eager to play catch. It would take time for that relationship to build. My mind and heart escaped battlefields and the shrapnel needed removal before healing could begin. Then I could decide to taste, really taste. For me that meant twirling the morsel around my tongue, sucking out all the marrow, chewing it like cud, marinating on its flavor. I had to have faith the Master Chef wasn’t trying to poison me, since I’d had a history of food poisoning. I had to surrender all my preconceived notions beforehand about how it might taste, feel and smell. Nobody could make me swallow that first bite; I could clamp my mouth shut and be none the wiser.

Before it tapped my tongue I could spew it like Jonah from my lips.

Like a fish to bait, I needed to take that first nibble on my own before I could be hooked on all of God’s goodness. That’s what faith in action is all about. True faith.

My son hates fish and may be finicky, but what upsets my stomach more is being a finicky Christian.

So I’m doing my own happy dance before God, because I now know, believe and trust that He’s the only one who truly can satisfy my soul’s deepest Spiritual hunger and thirst. I still lose my footing now and then, but as long as I keep dancing and stay in step with Him, I know I’ll be fine.

For I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

But it was a long time coming.

Thank God He’s patient with finicky ones like me.

In turn, I’ll try to show more patience and grace toward my own finicky child.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.